Philadelphia is on the cusp of passing a soda tax. (IF ONLY SODA ENTHUSIASTS HAD JOSTA AND SURGE TO HULK OUT WITH!) This beverage-based initiative isn’t just coming for “regular” sodas either. Diet sodas are also getting hit by the taxman.
Philadelphia City Council voted to approve a 1.5 cents-per-ounce surcharge on soda. Mayor Jim Kenney initially aimed for that surcharge to be 3 cents, but that approach has been modified to a smaller amount with more drinks (like “artificially sweetened beverages”) falling under the taxable umbrella. If the measure succeeds at the final vote on June 16, Philadelphia will bump off Berkley as the most high-profile U.S. city electing to tax soda. It might also lead to fistfights at the Wawa, but that’s just speculation on our part.
Kenney has presented the concept of taxing soda as a way to fund community initiatives. According to City Council, an estimated $91 million is expected to be generated from a single year of taxing which would be earmarked to “fund quality pre-K expansion, community schools, reinvestment in parks and recreation centers, and help pad the City’s General Fund.”
“The way to do it is from this targeted tax on an industry that makes enormous profits on the backs of poor people,” explained Kenney in a Philadelphians for a Fair Future spot.
The American Beverage Association is far less bullish on the concept (ditto Teamsters). There are worries that the tax could hurt retailers and those that have soda sales as part of their employment. The word “tax” also has a tendency to fire up emotions no matter what it’s related to.
As noted by NPR’s All Things Considered, Kenney’s approach frames the potential tax as a way to get money for popular projects, rather than trumpet the initiative as a health issue. No word yet on if an approved soda tax will lure Topanga and Cory back to Philadelphia.